I've written ad nauseam about unicorns, defined as privately-held startups that are valued at $1 billion or more by their investors. So much, in fact, that I co-authored did a Fortune cover story about them and Hasbro last week sent a toy unicorn for my amusement.
But there also is a smaller, more exclusive group of billion-dollar companies within the unicorn herd: The companies that have actually raised $1 billion or more in equity funding. You know, the ones that would be considered unicorns even if their pre-funding valuations were zero dollars and zero cents. Let's call them honey badgers.
The latest member of this clan is SoFi, which yesterday announced $1 billion in new equity funding led by SoftBank. That brings its overall total to $1.42 billion, not including another $400 million or so in debt financing. For context, that's about 57x the amount of funding Google raised before going public.
According to data provided by research firm Mattermark, SoFi is the 26th startup to ever raise $1 billion or more in venture capital (including corporate venture), of which 21 remain privately-held.
Of the five 'exited' companies, the results are a decidedly mixed-bag. On the upside are Facebook and Alibaba (yes, we're counting the Yahoo investment). Somewhere in between is Groupon, which has worked out great for its early investors but been a slog for those who came in pre-IPO. And then there was the partial flameout Clearwire (acquired by existing shareholder Sprint for just a fraction of its earlier valuation) and the total flameout Fisker Automotive (Chapter 11).
Of the still-private group, Uber has raised by far the most money -- seemingly adding new cash on a weekly basis. Mattermark puts the current equity total at around $6.4 billion, although it may already be higher by the time you read this.
The next couple names on the list are foreign -- Didi Kuaidi (Chinese rival to Uber) and Flipkart (Indian e-commerce), followed by Airbnb. The "smallest" honey badger is WeWork, which has raised just a hair over $1 billion.
This is the part where I should draw conclusions, like how the middling batting average for the exited companies should cause concern for those invested in the larger, still-private group. Particularly given the VC-backed IPO drought. But I honestly have no clue how this plays out, given that those earlier companies were exceedingly rare -- and the newer, larger group has plenty of company and operates in a different financing/tech environment.
But given the SoFi news, I felt it was worth beginning to break out these companies and begin to track them a bit differently. Particularly because a company that raised $1 billion or more in equity can no longer be satisfied becoming a $3 billion or $5 billion public company. At least not if their investors have anything to say about it...
• (Almost) peak M&A: There was $3.19 trillion of global M&A activity in the first three quarters of 2015, according to preliminary data from Thomson Reuters. Not quite a record, but off just 2% from 2007.
• IPO fears being realized? Worth noting that while four companies managed to price IPOs yesterday, each one of them came in below their expected range. This included a pair of VC-backed biotechs, a big PE-backed food services company and a PE-backed surgical facilities operator. In other words, this wasn't about sector or company size.
According to Thomson Reuters, global IPO activity for the first three quarters of 2015 generated $119.2 billion -- a 35% drop from last year and also lower than the 2013 total. The most significant drag came from Asia (-74%), due to the IPO troubles on China's domestic exchanges.
• New firm alert: Precursor Ventures has launched as a pre-seed investment firm led by Charles Hudson, who will transition into a venture partner role with SoftTechVC (he previously was a partner). According to an SEC filing, Hudson is seeking to raise upwards of $25 million for Precursor's debut fund, with a source saying he's already rounded up some commitments.
• #GetLiquid: Our San Francisco Liquidity Event is one week from tonight, with more than 800 of you expected to attend. We couldn't do it without our sponsors, so a big thanks to PitchBook Data, TPG Growth, Andreessen Horowitz, Gunderson Dettmer and Winmark Capital.
THE BIG DEAL
• First Data Corp., an Atlanta-based payments technology company backed by KKR, has set its proposed IPO terms to 160 million shares being offered at between $18 and $20 per share. It would have an initial market cap of around $16.1 billion were it to price in the middle of its range, and would raise $3 billion in the offering.
First Data plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol FDC, with Citigroup listed as left lead underwriter. It reports a $30 million net loss on $5.57 billion in revenue for the first half of 2015. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Renovate America Inc., a San Diego-based lender for homeowners who are working on solar or other energy-saving projects, has raised $90 million in new equity funding, according to Dow Jones. DFJ Growth led the round, and was joined by Silver Lake Kraftwerk. Read more.
• General Assembly, a New York-based coding school, has raised $70 million in Series D funding. Advance Publications led the round, and was joined by Wellington Management, WTI, Institutional Venture Partners, Learn Capital and Maveron. www.generalassembly.com
• Neon Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of neoantigen-based therapeutic vaccines and T cell therapies to treat cancer, has raised $55 million in first-round funding. Third Rock Ventures led the round, and was joined by Clal Biotechnology Industries and Access Industries. Read more.
• Elcelyx Therapeutics, a San Diego-based developer of drugs for diabetes and weight loss, has raised $40 million in Series E funding. Sailing Capital led the round, and was joined by Clough Capital Partners and return backers Morgenthaler Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Technology Partners and GSM Fund. www.Elcelyx.com
• PeopleDoc, a New York-based provider of cloud-based HR service delivery solutions, has raised $28 million in new VC funding. Eurazeo led the round with a $19 million in investment, and was joined by return backers Accel Partners, Kernel Investissements and Alven Capital. www.people-doc.com
• BigPanda, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of IT incident management automation solutions, has raised $16 million in Series B funding. Battery Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backers Sequoia Capital and Mayfield. www.bigpanda.com
• Canva, an Australian online design platform, has raised US$15 million in Series A funding. Felicis Ventures led the round, and was joined by Blackbird Ventures, Matrix Partners and Vayner Capital. www.canva.com
• Happn, a French dating app that leverages real-life interactions, has raised $14 million in Series B funding. Idinvest led the round, and was joined by Alven Capital, DN Capital and Raine Ventures. Read more.
• ShopFully Group (d.b.a. DoveConviene), an Italy-based digital platform for physical retail shopping, has raised €10 million in VC funding from Highland Capital Partners Europe. www.doveconviene.com
• Dolly, a Seattle-based P2P app for helping people move and deliver items, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Maveron led the round, and was joined by seed backer KGC Capital and Amazon exec Jeff Wilke. www.dolly.com
• Lytmus, a San Francisco-based provider of a technical assessment platform for employers and recruiters, has raised $7.2 million in VC funding from Accel Partners and New Enterprise Associates. Read more. www.lytmus.io
• NodePrime, a San Francisco-based provider of a first software-defined datacenter platform, has raised $7 million in seed funding. Backers include Menlo Ventures, NEA, Formation 8, Ericsson, Initialized Capital, Crosslink Capital and TEEC Angel Fund. www.nodeprime.com
• Aceable, an Austin, Texas-based maker of a drivers education app, has raised $4.7 million in seed funding led by Silverton Partners. www.aceable.com
• Optomed Oy, a Finnish developer of retinal imaging devices, has raised an undisclosed amount of VC funding from Robert Bosch Venture Capital. www.optomed.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Arxis Capital Group, a New York-based electronic trading firm, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Crestview Partners. www.crestview.com
• Domaine Select Wine & Spirits, a New York-based wine and artisan spirits importer and distributor backed by Walden Capital Management, has acquired Miami, Fla.-based Vinecraft LLC. No financial terms were disclosed. www.domaineselect.com
• Epic Health Services Inc., a Dallas-based provider of pediatric skilled nursing and therapy, has acquired Unifour Nursing, a Newton, N.C.-based provider of pediatric and adult home care services. No financial terms were disclosed. EHS is a portfolio company of Webster Capital. www.epichealthservices.com
• GenNx360 Capital Partners has acquired Truck Bodies and Equipment International Inc., a Lake Crystal, Minn.-based maker of dump truck bodies, dump trailers, other specialty bodies, hoists, parts and accessories. No financial terms were disclosed. The seller would be Kirtland Capital Partners. www.tbei.com
• Opus Global, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based provider SaaS-based compliance solutions, has acquired Alacra Inc., a New York-based provider of anti-money laundering and reference data business information solutions. No financial terms were disclosed. Opus Global is a portfolio company of GTCR. Sellers include Archer Venture Capital, Flatiron Partners and HM Capital Partners. www.opusglobal.com
• Platinum Equity has completed its previously-announced acquisition of Worldwide Flight Services, a France-based cargo handling company, from LBO France. No financial terms were disclosed. www.wfs.aero
• Send Word Now, a New York-based provider of enterprise communication solutions, has acquired One Call Now, a Dayton, Ohio-based provider of mass notification solutions. MSD Partners provided finance in support of the deal. No pricing terms were disclosed. Send Word Now shareholders include Ascend Venture Group, Palisade Capital and Southpaw Asset Management. www.sendwordnow.com
• Thoma Bravo has completed its previously-announced acquisition of a majority stake in MedeAnalytics Inc., an Emeryville, Calif.-based provider of cloud-based financial performance analytics for the healthcare industry. Existing investors Bain Capital Ventures and Emergence Capital Partners remain minority shareholders. No financial terms were disclosed. www.medeanalytics.com
• Edge Therapeutics, a Berkeley Heights, N.J.-based developer of therapies for life-threatening neurological conditions, raised $80 million in its IPO. The company priced 7.3 million shares at $11 per share, compared to plans to offer 5.67 million shares at between $14 and $16 per share. Its initial market cap is $284 million, and the pre-revenue company will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol EDGE. Leerink Partners and Credit Suisse served as co-lead underwriters. Edge Therapeutics has raised just over $100 million in VC funding, from firms like Sofinnova Ventures (9.2% pre-IPO stake), Venrock (8%), Janus Capital Management (8%), New Leaf Venture Partners (6.4%), Franklin Templeton (6.4%) and BioMed Ventures. www.edgetherapeutics.com
• Mirna Therapeutics Inc., an Austin, Texas-based developer of microRNA therapeutics for oncology, raised $44 million in its IPO. The company priced 6.3 million shares at $7 per share, compared to plans to offer 4.65 million shares at between $13 and $15 per share. Its initial market cap is around $140 million. The pre-revenue company will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol MIRN, while Citigroup and Leerink Partners served as co-lead underwriters. Mirna Therapeutics had raised around $83 million in VC funding, from firms like Sofinnova Ventures (17.83% pre-IPO stake), New Enterprise Associates (17.83%), Pfizer Ventures (15.01%), Eastern Capital (6.39%), Osage University Partners and Correlation Ventures. www.mirnarx.com
• Performance Food Group, a Richmond, Va.-based foodservice distributor, raised $276 million in its IPO. The company priced 14.5 million shares at $19 per share (below $22-$25 range), for an initial market cap of $2 billion ($3.2b enterprise value). It will trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol PFGC, while Credit Suisse was listed as lead left underwriter. The company reports $56.5 million of net income on $15.27 billion in revenue for the fiscal year ending June 27, 2015. Shareholders include The Blackstone Group (71.8% pre-IPO stake), Wellspring Capital Partners (19.2%), Lexington Partners (2%), Fisher Lynch (2%), Ares Management and Quilvest. www.pfgc.com
• Surgery Partners Inc., a Nashville, Tenn.-based surgical facilities operator backed by H.I.G. Capital, raised $271 million in its IPO. The company priced 14.29 million shares at $19 per share (below $23-$26 per share range), for an initial market cap of around $915 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol SGRY, while BofA Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Jefferies served as lead underwriters. Surgery Partners reports $23 million of net income on $457 million in revenue for the first six months of 2015, compared to $9 million of net income on $147 million in revenue for the year-earlier period. www.surgery-partners.com
• Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has acquired Jibe Mobile, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of RCS services. No financial terms were disclosed. Jibe Mobile had raised over $8 million in VC funding from groups like Vodafone Ventures and MTI. www.jibemobile.com
• Flywire (f.k.a. PeerTransfer), a Boston-based provider of global payment solutions for the education industry, has acquired Uni-Pay, a UK-based tuition payment processor. No financial terms were disclosed. Flywire has raised over $40 million in VC funding from firms like Bain Capital Ventures and Spark Capital. www.peertransfer.com
• General Electric (NYSE: GE) has agreed to sell a pair of railcar operations units of GE Capital. The first deal involves the sale of GE Capital’s tank car fleet assets and railcar repair facilities to Marmon Holdings Inc., a unit of Berkshire Hathaway. The second is the sale of GE Capital’s railcar leasing unit to Wells Fargo. Read more. Read more.
• Mubadala GE Capital has agreed to sell its $3.6 billion portfolio of corporate and real estate loans in the U.S. and Europe to MidCap Financial, a unit of Apollo Global Management. No financial terms were disclosed. www.midcapfinancial.com
• Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) has backed out of a deal whereby it would have paid $1.7 billion to acquire a 40% stake in Russian onshore drilling company Eurasia Drilling Co., after not receiving Russian regulatory approval in time to meet a deadline that Schlumberger had set. The deal would have provided Schlumberger with the option to acquire the remaining 60% of Eurasia Drilling at a later date. Read more.
• Unisplendour, a listed Chinese hardware maker, has agreed to acquire a 15% stake in Western Digital (Nasdaq: WDC), an Irvine, Calif.-based producer of hard disk drives, for around $3.78 billion (around a 30% share premium). The deal will give Unisplendour the right to nominate one Western Digital director. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• American Industrial Partners, a New York-based private equity firm focused on middle-market industrial businesses in North America, has closed its sixth fund with $1.8 billion in capital commitments. www.americanindustrial.com
• The Blackstone Group has completed the spin-off of its financial and strategic advisory group, PJT Partners, which now will trade as an independent company on the NYSE under ticker symbol PJT. Read more.
• Pearl Energy Investments, a Dallas-based private equity firm focused on the energy industry, has closed its debut fund with $500 million in capital commitments. The firm is led by Billy Quinn (former co-managing partner of Natural Gas Partners) and Chris Aulds (former co-CEO of TEAK Midstream) www.pearl-energy.com
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Dushy Sivanithy has stepped down as an ESG-focused partner with Pantheon Ventures after 10 years with the fund-of-funds manager, according to Dow Jones. Read more.
• Rafi Zaman has joined Meketa Investment Group as an equity partner and chief investment officer of its subsidiary focused on providing discretionary investment services to the OCIO marketplace (Meketa Fiduciary Management). He previously was head of global equities at DuPont Capital. www.meketagroup.com
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